Today’s snowflake is al-Batin, the Hidden. As I welcome the return of my beloved snow, I’ve been finding myself thinking a lot about the hidden beauty of the world, the joy in unexpected places, and the human drive to find them, even in the most challenging of circumstances...
When I was young, I would take the bus home on cold winter days, walk 20 mins from the bus stop to my door, and wait for my skin to thaw. Often, I was the only one home, so I would find the one patch on the stairs where the afternoon sun shone, deceptively warm for the middle of winter, and curl myself up there. I’d stay until the sun moved out of my reach, rays of light fading quickly into the snowy horizon, but when I rose, I was as warm as if I had been out sunbathing in July.
I’ve found myself thinking back on that patch of sunshine a lot over the years. There was a certain comfort to that space, that moment, that I’ve never been able to recapture and I find myself longing for it often as the days grow shorter and the autumn turns to winter.
The other day, I was speaking to a friend having a rough time. The world these days feels so cold, a nameless, faceless void of existential dread. Everything feels dark, and we stumble across hard edges, doing our best to manage the inevitable pain of living in a place that seems to bereft of warmth. As we spoke, they told me how they couldn’t imagine how to carry on, how to keep living in a world that inflicts one trauma on top of another, with no space to breathe or think, let alone heal.
I told them what I always tell folx in moments like that, what I try to tell myself when I too am in that dark pit. I told them that in spite of the horror, there is beauty still. There are people who love us who anchor us to this place, even when we want to let go and float away. That those glimpses of beauty, that single ounce of real love, can be enough to keep us here, and that’s as good a reason as any. Not because it outweighs all the terrible truths, but because it reminds us that we are more than our pain.
A colleague told me yesterday that speaking to those who have only ever been in pain about what it is like to feel healed and whole is like describing chocolate to someone who has never tasted it. It sounds incredible, but you can’t ever really know if you’ve never had it. And there is some truth to that. Because one of the other things I often say to clients and friends in those dark passages of grief and pain is that they have to have faith; they have to trust me when I tell them that healing is possible; that I wouldn’t do what I do if I didn’t truly believe it were.
But then, yesterday morning, my friend messaged to tell me that our chat had helped, and that it felt like a little crack of light had crept into the darkness. And I found myself thinking back to my spot on the stairs, and how sometimes, that one ray of sunshine, that one patch of warmth, even if it’s short-lived, can make you forget the winter cold and can help steel you against the darkness. In fact, after my time in the sun I often found myself searching for dark places and the quiet crispness of the snow. Such, I suppose, is the contradiction inherent to the human condition. We need the sun but we also crave the cold, the quiet, the dark stillness we cannot find in sunny places.
I suppose all this is my way of saying that even that single ray of sunshine can be enough. Like Charlie waiting for his one bar of Wonka chocolate, a taste we know and remember, and savour all the more because it is rare. Not all of us are blessed with boxes of chocolate and endless summer days in our lives. So many of us have to brave storm after storm and it feels unending and we want to let go and be overtaken by the waves. And then suddenly, the clouds part, and those streaks of sunshine look as ethereal as anything on earth, and it’s enough for us. Because in the starkness of that contrast, there is a beauty we are privy to that all the sunny days in the world won’t give us, a glimpse of truth and meaning that we cannot quite grasp, but that gives us the faith to go on.
As the light seeps out of these autumn days and the cold settles in, I offer this prayer: may you find your patch of sunshine. May you find the light that comforts and warms you, that allows you to suspend your disbelief and imagine it’s summer for a few blissful moments. May you get a cup of hot cocoa and a warm blanket and some cuddles. May those moments give you faith and hope to continue on. And I hope that when you do, you remember that there is magic in you that allows you to do all this, and that magic is powerful.
Blessed be my loves.